Articles by Bonnie Washuk


Lewiston looks for ways to preserve school choice

By Bonnie Washuk on June 04, 2013, at 6:05 a.m.
Compared to most years, more Lewiston families are being told no when they ask if their child can attend a school not in their neighborhood district. School Superintendent Bill Webster expects that by September as many students will attend schools out of their neighborhood as last year, …
Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot shows off an artist's rendition of the renovated school. The three-story addition in the front will allow for a more secure entrance on the first floor, a library on the second and new classrooms on the third. Meanwhile the entire interior will get a facelift. The $9.1 million project, paid for by property taxes, will begin in June and be completed by January 2014.

Renovation of historic Lewiston Middle School to begin in June

By Bonnie Washuk on May 28, 2013, at 5:53 a.m.
The Lewiston Middle School soon will take on a new look with a three-story addition. The front of the early 1930s brick building, originally built as a high school, will get a major face-lift. The lower level of the addition will be made of brick and the …
Spencer Simoneau, who will attend Southern Maine Community College in the fall to study criminal justice, has been working since the ninth grade to achieve his goals of working in public service. As early as 10th grade, he took a class to become an EMT. Today he works as a professional firefighter for the town of Poland. He's already earned college credit while at Lewiston High School.

Success story: Young firefighter has eyes set on first responder career

By Bonnie Washuk on May 27, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.
LEWISTON | Spencer Simoneau, 18, will graduate from Lewiston High School on Friday knowing he wants to become a police officer or firefighter after college. He has a head start. He’s already a professional firefighter with the Poland Fire Department. Simoneau plans to attend Southern Maine Community College this …
Sisters Rahma, left, and Fatuma Haji will graduate Friday from Lewiston High School. They will be the first generation of their family to go to college.

Success story: Graduating Lewiston sisters credit dad for helping them get where they are

By Bonnie Washuk on May 27, 2013, at 6:06 a.m.
Seven years ago they were immigrants from Kenya, starting a new school in a new country. Today, Somali sisters Fatuma Haji, 18, and Rahma Haji, 16, both members of the National Honor Society, will graduate Friday from Lewiston High School. The first generation of their family to …

Maine official: State funding for a new Edward Little High School ‘isn’t hopeless’

By Bonnie Washuk on May 25, 2013, at 5:57 a.m.
AUGUSTA | When it comes to building a new Edward Little High School, patience could pay off. For the past year, Auburn officials have said state funding for a new high school wasn’t a possibility. The School Committee has asked the City Council to approve a referendum in February …
Zam Zam Mohamud votes for her first time Tuesday as a member of the Lewiston School Committee.

Lewiston’s Zam Zam Mohamud becomes first Somali immigrant on school board

By Bonnie Washuk on May 17, 2013, at 6:22 a.m.
Zam Zam Mohamud, described as popular and well-regarded in the community by a Bates College professor, is the city’s first Somali to serve on the Lewiston School Committee. Her appointment is a turning point for Lewiston, “when our city representatives begin to reflect our shifting demographics,” said …
Autumn Michaud, 6, a first-grader at East Auburn Community School, works on math problems using an iPad tablet computer in teacher June Simard's class in 2012.

Auburn schools reject state’s laptop choice, go with iPads for students

By Bonnie Washuk on May 16, 2013, at 6:33 a.m.
The School Department is ditching laptop computers and going to all iPad tablet computers for kindergartners to high school seniors.  This fall, middle school students will get Apple iPads with the cost covered by the state. High school students will also get iPads, as proposed in the …
Matt Greenwood from Almighty Waste empties recycling bins along Acadia Avenue in Lewiston on Thursday morning.

How Lewiston could save $100,000: Recycle more

By Bonnie Washuk on April 22, 2013, at 6:25 a.m.
If you were to rip open trash bags on a curb any given day, chances are good you’d find things in there that should be recycled: glass, cans, bottles, newspaper, paper and cardboard. Some residents are vigilant about recycling and use the city’s 36-gallon recycle bin, where …

Cocker spaniel killed by neighboring bulldogs in Turner

By Bonnie Washuk on April 17, 2013, at 6:10 a.m.
Sheila Olson is mourning the death of her 14-year-old cocker spaniel, Skittles, which was recently killed by two bulldogs that live up the street. No consequences came to the two dogs. Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout said he had no history of complaints about them. On the …
David Marsters is proposing an ordinance which mandates every Sabattus head of household own a gun.

Sabattus man wants every town resident to own a gun

By Bonnie Washuk on March 05, 2013, at 6:32 a.m.
Retiree David Marsters says there ought to be a law which mandates every Sabattus head of household to own a gun. He’s not joking. If each Sabattus home had a gun, “it would provide and protect safety of the city,” Marsters said. When the selectmen meet Tuesday, …
David Peterson and Jessica Gilliam, who each were homeless, met at the Hope Haven Gospel Mission in Lewiston and fell in love. On Saturday, March 2, they'll marry in the shelter's dining room.

Formerly homeless couple to marry at Hope Haven shelter

By Bonnie Washuk on Feb. 25, 2013, at 9:09 a.m.
Marriage will mean less benefits, but wife says love is most important
Lewiston schools Superintendent Bill Webster showed this photo of overturned chairs in a Lewiston classroom to legislators this week, explaining the damage was done by a first-grader who also broke the teacher's nose. He said the teacher could not touch the boy because the law prohibits it.

Superintendent: Maine’s law against restraint teaches students they can act out

By Bonnie Washuk on Feb. 23, 2013, at 9:34 a.m.
LEWISTON | A photo of chairs overturned in a Lewiston classroom, the aftermath of a first-grader out of control and who broke a teachers nose this past fall, illustrates the need to change a state law on restraining students, Lewiston School Superintendent Bill Webster said. Webster was one of …

Edward Little teacher going to Kazakhstan

By Bonnie Washuk on Feb. 04, 2013, at 5:47 a.m.
AUBURN | During her world history class at Edward Little High School, Erin Towns opened mail from the U.S. State Department last May and announced where they were sending her. “I’m going to Kazakhstan!” she said. “‘Huh? What? Kazakhstan?’” Towns recalled her students saying. “They were freaking out I …

Education official says Oxford Casino money will go to schools, but not this year

By Bonnie Washuk on Jan. 30, 2013, at 6:47 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Defending what some call a “raid on profits” from the Oxford Casino, Deputy Commissioner Jim Rier said Tuesday that money from the casino which was supposed to go to public schools will go to schools next year — but not this year. Taking $14 million of casino …
Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a press conference in Portland on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

Superintendents call LePage’s school aid push a ‘gimmick’

By Bonnie Washuk on Jan. 25, 2013, at 7:05 a.m.
AUGUSTA | A state budget move to push some of the June school payments to July has superintendents nervous. They remember the payroll pushes during the McKernan administration in the 1990s. “It is a gimmick,” Mt. Blue School District Superintendent Mike Cormier said. “I believed [Gov. Paul LePage] when …
Destiny Scott, left, Amber Bunnell, bottom, Ricky Black, second from left, Brianna Dyer and Tyler Smith are five of the 10 students from Franklin Alternative School in Auburn who are going to the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday.

Auburn students going to Obama’s inauguration

By Bonnie Washuk on Jan. 18, 2013, at 6:11 a.m.
Destiny Scott voted for the first time in November, choosing Barack Obama. On Monday she’ll be in Washington, D.C., watching Obama take the oath of office. “It’s going to be amazing,” said Scott, 18. “It’s a great opportunity. Something that will never be done again.” She and …
Rita Dube (left), former Franco-American Heritage Center executive director, talks with her longtime friend, Angela Murphy of Lewiston, during Dube's retirement party in Lewiston on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013.

Franco Center says ‘merci’ to retired director who helped create the cultural venue

By Bonnie Washuk on Jan. 14, 2013, at 5:55 a.m.
LEWISTON | Just before 7 p.m. Saturday the parking lot at the Franco-American Heritage Center was filling up. They came to celebrate former director Rita Dube, who helped turn a Little Canada church set to be torn down into a state-of-the-art performance and cultural center. They came to say …
Lewiston Superintendent of Schools Bill Webster (second from right) goes over suggestions from parents Monday night with the redistricting committee, including (from left) Angie St. Hilaire, Jim Handy and Audrey Chapman.

Lewiston school redistricting committee rejects parents’ ideas, stays with plan

By Bonnie Washuk on Jan. 08, 2013, at 5:55 a.m.
LEWISTON – After hearing suggestions to change plans about sending a few hundred students to different schools, redistricting committee members said no to most ideas Monday. The committee is recommending sending 234 elementary students, about 8 percent of the total, to different schools this fall. The reasons are to handle …
Sen. Susan Collins in November.

Collins, Pingree say government should do more to prevent mentally ill from owning guns

By Bonnie Washuk on Dec. 20, 2012, at 8:07 a.m.
Two members of Maine’s Congressional delegation say more work needs to be done when it comes to gun control and mental health. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said there’s room for improvement. “We should examine, among other issues, whether states are reporting data on mentally ill individuals found to be …
Rick Brand, Chief Operating Officer of Amendment II, shoots a 9 mm pistol into a children's backpack (left) fitted with an anti-ballistic insert, during a demonstration at a gun range on Wednesday in Taylorsville, Utah. Anxious parents reeling in the wake the Connecticut school shooting are fueling sales of armored backpacks for children, as firearms enthusiasts stock up on assault rifles.

Report: Maine shares few mental health records for gun background checks

By Bonnie Washuk on Dec. 20, 2012, at 5:51 a.m.
When it comes to sharing mental health records with safety officials for gun background checks, Maine is among the worst performing states, according to a national group promoting gun control. In the wake of 26 murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 committed by a man believed to …